Notes for Friedrich Kittler “The March of Technology”


Electrics, electronics, actual trends and near future.

Understand difference between switch and transistor.

Closure of computers not danger of shock. Gates memo in future treat consumers just as computer, keep on run.

Engineers are poets because they are makers; technical terms like flip flops self explaining.

Speak Greek without knowing: electricity, electron is brilliant as adjective, amber as noun. Maybe Greeks meant frictional electricity. Root of electron is unknown but it should not bother us. Minor god and Electra written by Sophocles.

Nineteenth century electromagnetism. Also Greek after city Magnesia. See paper “Lightning and thunder” on difference between Greeks and our experience of culture.

Hegel in philosophy of world history argued Greeks wondered about natural world where other cultures wondered about monsters.

Question about architecture and science. Cycle of sciences: Greeks made up music from mathematics, geometry, borrowed from other cultures.

Question about alphabet and science. Can read and write Greek through vowels whereas Hebrew cannot be read without diacritical marks. Analyzing smallest elements of voice affords pronounciation of Greek and not Egyptian hieroglyphics. May have inspired transfer of analysis of smallest elements, phonetic units to other units.

Middle ages not as untechnical as people believe. Use of compass during Mongol invasion of China. Appeared in Europe in early thirteenth century for maritime orientation, practical not theoretical.

Introduction of plus and minus in mathematics projected onto compass needle.

William Gilbert 1600 treatise on the magnet.

Bottle of Lyden similar principle as amber; rubbing led to shock. Electricity at disposal of science because bottle could be built anywhere, did not need amber. Created technical artifact capacitor, having the capacity to shock.

Introduce technical symbols in order to draw elementary electrical circuits.

Galvani connected Lyden bottle to legs of dead frogs, suggesting muscles related to electricity.

Spaniard experimented with electric telegraphy between cities modeled after French optic system. Connected Leydan bottles for each letter to wires with a person holding them to shriek out message.

In 1804 another Italian Mesmer refuted Galvani's thesis on animal electricity after it had entered realm of popular culture; hysterics formed circle and got into states with aid of Lyden jar.

Lavoisier chemical elements broke down water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Volta broke down electricity into positive and negative elements. Battery produced electricity without Leydan bottle.

After French revolution problem of how to get informed of general will in large regions in sufficiently small time. Information transported by horses. Optical telegraphy relay stations every 10-15 miles benefited army more than democracy.

Austrian strategists miscalculated response time when invading France.

Electric system of telegraphy imagined by German using wires for letters and ciphers of alphabet into bottles of water to produce bubbles. Napoleon rejected the idea. Likewise an American proposed steam boat for French invasion of British empire declined.

Danish philosopher scientist Oerstadt inspired by Kant.. (video ends).